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Hunter safety and target identification were the top messages by Iowa’s state conservation officers over the weekend during the first shotgun deer season.
“Safety is our number one concern,” said Craig Cutts, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Burau. “We want everyone to have fun, and at the end of the day, we want them all to come home safe and sound.”
Cutts encouraged hunters to review their blaze orange to make sure it’s not faded and is in fact 100 percent solid blaze orange – no camo patterns. The law requires each hunter to wear one piece of external visible sold blaze orange clothing: vest, jacket, coat, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls. The purpose is to be seen by other hunters.
He said hunters using a blind to hunt deer during the shotgun seasons also need to have a minimum of 144 square inches of blaze orange marking on the blind visible from all sides. Hunters using blinds must also satisfy the requirements of wearing blaze orange on their person.
He also advised hunters to double check their deer tags to make sure they have the correct tag for the correct season; to have a valid hunting license and habitat fee; reminded hunters that landowner deer tags are assigned to the specific farm unit, and must be used for that specific farm unit; and that the allowable rifles do not include .300 Win Mag or .30-06. Only rifles firing an expanding type bullet with a diameter from .350 to .500 of an inch with a published or calculated muzzle energy of 500 foot pounds or higher are legal for hunting deer in the shotgun seasons.
“Hunters need to be familiar with the range of their firearm and their skills and stay within those boundaries,” he said. “We always stress that hunters need to not only properly identify their target, but what is behind it as well, and avoid shooting at running deer. If there’s any question about taking a shot, don’t pull the trigger, because once you pull the trigger, you can’t call the shot back. No deer is worth taking an unsafe shot; another deer will come along.”
Hunters reported harvesting 21,000 deer from Dec. 3-5. Iowa’s first shotgun season ends Dec. 7. Iowa’s second shotgun season is Dec. 10-18.